[box_light]What is the first thought that comes to mind when you think of the entertainment industry? Is the image of a movie star walking the red carpet with cameras flashing as on-lookers drool over their presence? Or maybe you envision an accomplished singer standing on a lit stage crooning to an audience with their band and backup dancers in musical tow. More tragically, maybe the thought is of a fast and tumultuous life mixed with drugs, alcohol, tax problems and lawsuits. Whatever your image of the entertainment industry is, the work and challenges to accomplish even minimal success in this ever changing industry are very rarely estimated.[/box_light]
The architecture of the entertainment industry (especially the music side of it) is changing as swiftly as technology. Record labels, artists, managers and talent developers who have a difficult time adjusting to this exciting new technological paradigm are swiftly being fused out of the marketplace. Old business models of “brick and mortar” promotions and distribution have become prehistoric. “Mom and Pop” record stores have completely dried up. Big box stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy are the gate-keepers to physical CD sales.
Physical CD sales, as well as paid Internet downloads, are in extreme competition with pirating and file sharing sites. Radio stations are changing formats to adjust to a shrinking listening audience due to the likes of satellite, Internet radio and Pandora. Radio is fighting the financial crunch with an even smaller sponsor and radio spot purchasing base, along with conglomerate radio companies buying up individually owned stations in primary and secondary markets.
Experienced, proven mainstay individuals who aren’t Mac, Facebook, Twitter, Internet and social network savvy find themselves on the outside looking in on an industry they helped create. Mass products have become catered to the customized consumer. The industry has become visual, technologically driven, viral and very much a young person’s game. It is a scary world out there! The question is, “How do you keep up?” The answer is simple…you MUST educate yourself if you want to prosper.
An artist can no longer rely on a record label, manager or singular promotional tool to expose them to the world. Nor can an artist afford to stay confined within their “creative bubble” and expect to be successful and protected. An artist must be versed financially and in business, while maintaining their creative edge. The changes in the music industry today are far more consequential then when albums transitioned into CD’s. The evolution of this industry is much greater than a medium change. The whole way of doing business has evolved. To be successful, an artist must sink their teeth deep into the concept of ownership. Own your image, your music, your publishing, your company and your individual brand. More importantly, own your own knowledge. With the Internet being the most powerful driving force in commerce period, it must be mastered to have a chance in today’s industry.
Have no fear; there is a silver lining in the clouds! The exciting thing about all of these changes is there has never been more of an opportunity for an artist to take control of their destiny. Waiting on a major label to recognize your talent and offer you a chance at stardom is a thing of the past. An individual artist can create their own branding, marketing and content within the confines of their laptop. Visual and viral marketing have turned unknowns into overnight success stories based on new technology. Those who read up on publishing, recording contracts, copyrights, business structure and licensing make themselves a “team of one.” However, no man is an island. The need for entertainment attorneys and talent developers who understand the legal and business ramifications of this new industry are even more viable. But the power has been placed in the individual. So while the technologically challenged have to worry, those artists growing up in this age who digest the changes are well ahead of the curve.
The “Glitz and Glamour” of the entertainment industry is still very much there. But the limelight is a little smaller and the glamour is a little further out of reach. For those who treat their talent like a business, the stars become a little closer to touch. The most imperative lesson is education. If you don’t know it, ask someone who does. If no one will tell you (or even if they do) follow up with research. Find a mentor who is doing what you want to do and put your hands on them. And finally, invest in yourself. No one is going to give you the game. Remember, it is to be “sold and not told.” No one wants to invest in someone who hasn’t first invested in themselves. Prepare to pay for what you don’t know. But believe me, it is always cheaper to buy knowledge on the front end rather than to pay for it dearly on the back.
Written by Kamel King